Friday, September 21, 2012

Be Ferocious and Patient

Salvation Lies Within...the Training Log.
It was sort of perfect really. I turned the car on, plugged in my iPhone, and hit play. The soft beginnings of Death Cab for Cutie’s “Marching Bands of Manhattan” poured from my speakers, a song that always gives me the sensation of opening my eyes in the morning and conjures the memory of the New York Marathon. That race has been heavy on my mind lately, the 2011 one that is. The one where I dipped under three hours for the first time. The one I’ve romanticized for the past, oh, 11 months, particularly heading into my Marine Corps Marathon training.

The trouble with romanticizing, though, is that we tend to leave out the things we’d rather forget, which is why I can boil down seventh and eighth grade to about two seconds, both of which constitute walking out of those doors for the last time. But I digress.

I wouldn’t constitute the march toward Marine Corps as a particularly bad training experience, it’s simply that, with under six weeks to the gun, I’m still waiting for that one breakthrough run or tune up that lets you know.

In the meantime, I go about ticking off the boxes of my training calendar, trying to play it cool, trying not to force that breakthrough, trying to be breezy.

Then breezy wasn’t working, so I started stalking my 2011-self. Hey, if I’m going to keep that meticulous training log, I may as well as put it to good use. So, I started comparing workouts to last year to track my progress. Dangerous and unfair.  I looked at last week’s 17 miler + 5K, read the notes and scrutinized the times. I just shook my head, clicked the “x” and shut the computer.

But with a couple of good workouts under my belt this week, I returned to September 2011 and I looked at several days together and those forgotten memories that had been conveniently swept under the pile of sweaty running clothes started to emerge. Notes included: “Typical shitty Wednesday run,” “IT too stiff to go today,” “Legs didn’t have it today” and so on. Turns out, similar to Andy Dufresne, "salvation lies within."

Same weeks. Same feelings nearly one year later.

I had a glimpse of what could be at the 2012 Providence Rock and Roll Half Marathon in August, when I strung together a 1:19:29 PR, but it feels like a race too far. Since then, as the miles have piled up and some days I return to my front step awash in fatigue and doubt, I wonder when.

But last year, I wondered “when” as well. Am I doing enough? Are the speed workouts working? Did I waste my time with the base miles? The answer didn’t come until October 10, exactly four weeks out from the race. I had the Army Ten Miler penciled in for a tune up. The year before I ran sub-60 there and had no expectations for that again. Around mile 5, however, I started flirting with the idea and fully recognizing it at mile 7. I strode confidently to a 58:45.

Despite the breakthrough, I rattled off a couple more crappy workouts leading up to the race.

I opened the "notebook" in my iPad this week and came across the phrase that is this post's title. I don't know what runner to attribute it to but guessing it's probably Desi Davila or Shalane Flanagan. It's the mantra I've adopted for the remainder of my training, and it runs on repeat in my head when the darkness (or lactic acid) starts to seep in.

While I won’t have a race like the Army Ten Miler to test my mettle, I will have to trust in the work, put my faith in the miles, and be “ferocious and patient.”

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